Beautiful DIY Terrarium in 3 Easy Steps {NO Care for 3 Months!}

A beautiful DIY terrarium evokes our memories of a lost paradise: lush jungles, moist tropical air, and rain forest by the ocean.

After making some terrariums and realizing how easy they are to DIY and care for, I am so happy to share with you in this tutorial:

  • How to choose the right type of terrarium plants.
  • How to make a terrarium that is beautiful and easy to maintain.
  • Helpful tips on terrarium care and maintenance.

Although there are terrarium kits designed to make more professional looking and longer lasting terrariums,  you don’t need special supplies to create a little living paradise in a glass jar. A trip to a yard sale and a walk in the woods will give you all the treasures needed to make your own magical terrarium.

* Some resources in article are affiliate links. Full disclosure here .

Detailed tutorial on how to make a beautiful DIY terrarium easily and create a living paradise in a glass jar that stays healthy with very little care. |

How to choose the right type of terrarium plants.

In order to make a terrarium that looks natural and stays healthy with minimal care, let’s look at a few basic yet important considerations first-

There are two types of terrariums: open and closed, which will determine the choices of your terrarium plants.

Closed terrariums should be kept mostly in the shade.

Best terrarium plants for a closed terrarium need to be compact, and humidity-loving. Moss, ferns, and most small plants in the house plant section of a nursery are from the shaded forest floor habitat, will work great in a closed terrarium.

How to make a terrarium easily that stays healthy with no maintenance. Beautiful DIY terrarium ideas on best plants & care tips for open & closed terrariums.

Because of little moisture loss, the closed terrarium can stay alive and healthy for months with almost no maintenance. I made my closed terrarium ( the one in the photo above), and never had to open the jar in 5 months!

Plants such as succulents would not be suitable for a closed terrarium, because they like low moisture in the air.

Open terrariums can be kept in the sun or shade.

They are more like glass planters than a traditional “terrarium”. In addition to all the plants used in closed terrariums, you can plant orchid, any small indoor plants, etc. You can also make succulent terrariums using small succulents and air plants, which love a dry environment.

How to make a terrarium that is beautiful and easy to maintain.

Materials and tools:

( Some of the helpful resources are affiliate links. Full disclosure here. )

  • large glass jars or vases: often yards sales or thrift stores will have vases or (affiliate link) glass cookie jars with lids like these.
  • planting medium: gravel or small pebbles, clean soil such as potting soil,  a layer of activated charcoal or horticultural charcoal on the bottom of a terrarium will help absorb impurities. It is not required for open terrariums such as succulent terrariums, but highly recommended for closed terrariums..
  • treasures found on a nature walk, such as moss, ferns,  seashells, branches, rocks, etc. You can also buy preserved moss like this.

Let’s first make a closed terrarium first using a large cookie jar.

Step 1: create the drainage and soil layer

Put a 1″ layer of 50% pea gravel or fine rocks mixed with 50% horticultural charcoal  ( easier to find than activated charcoal ) at the bottom of the DIY terrarium. This will keep bacteria and mold from developing in the closed terrarium.

Next, add some moist soil. The soil layer does not need to be that thick. 2″ to 3″ is enough for most plants.

Use a few bigger  rocks to help creating soil mounds. Think of them like mini mountains and hills. If you could find one with some moss growing on it, even better! 🙂

Step 2: add some terrarium plants

Small plants from the shaded forest floor are great for terrariums, such as tiny ferns , moss, and most small house plants.

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Step 3: add artistic elements

Vertical elements, such as twigs and barks, can create the look of a mini forest. Some even have moss on them, so pretty!

Move things around until everything looks balanced in the terrarium.

It’s like creating a painting, or a bouquet. Step back and look at everything, shift things around until you are happy with how your DIY terrarium looks!

Give everything a gentle mist, close the jar, and enjoy your little piece of tropical jungle paradise!

How to make a terrarium that is open without lid.

Follow Steps 1-3 for the closed terrarium DIY.  The main difference is that we have a wider choice of plants. Just try to keep plants with similar moisture requirements in the same terrarium. For example, succulents love to be kept more dry, and ferns love to be watered often.

Detailed tutorial on how to make a beautiful DIY terrarium easily and create a living paradise in a glass jar that stays healthy with very little care. |

I added some Sedum plants and a few seashells for different colors and textures.

Helpful tips on how to keep your terrarium healthy:

The closed terrarium requires almost no maintenance if it is set up right and placed in a bright location without direct sun.

The open terrarium needs to be misted once every couple of days for fern and moss type plants.

A succulent terrarium just need watering about once every 1-2 weeks. It can take some direct sun. Do not let water puddle at the bottom for more than 1 day.

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Happy creating! See you next week!


  1. I’ve only recently found about terrariums and I absolutely love the concept. Thanks ever so much for this tutorial. It was very informative and fun.

  2. Before adding soil, a bit of granulated charcoal and a layer of small pebbles on the bottom will prevent odors and ensure good drainage, especially if you are making a closed system.

  3. Very Pretty! You are an inspiration!
    I made one years ago. It had a small opening but no lid. I use a piece of plastic wrap and a rubber band to seal it. This kept in the moisture so I hardly ever had water it.

  4. Gads I hate to be one of those people that says ” That’s EXACTLY what I was going to say you should make!!” But I am – well a Fairie Garden was my second thought – LOL! Yours turned out beautiful!!

  5. This is super adorable! I think a terrarium would be perfect for a new college grad who may be moving soon as a house warming gift! Great tutorial to explain it all!

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